Rob here. I’ve been consulting in the permaculture world for close to a decade now. Before that, I consulted in the oil and gas industry for another five, so suffice it to say I’ve been around the consulting block. As an O&G consultant I was solving problems for large firms, which really allowed me to cut my teeth in the project management side of things. But it wasn’t until I went off on my own with Verge that I had to learn all the other components, like sales, marketing, and admin. Over the years, I’ve come to notice a few sentiments I’d like to address after seeing so many forging their own path in the permaculture space.
Myth #1: “The Only Way to Make Money in Permaculture is Through Teaching.”
There’s a lot of rhetoric out there about how the only way to make money in permaculture is through teaching. This is just not true. Yes, permaculture is relatively young and needs thousands of teachers if it’s going to become mainstream, and I applaud anyone who steps up to the challenge. But frankly, I could write a whole other blog about the hundreds of business opportunities I see in this space on a regular basis.
Consulting is one business folks can take on once they have enough experience in what they choose to consult in. I make this distinction because I don’t feel that one consults on permaculture. Instead, I believe one uses permaculture in consulting. This is an important distinction because permaculture is far too broad a subject to say one can be a specialist in the whole subject matter. For example, I am a mechanical engineer who uses permaculture to consult on the design and operation of resilient farm homes and acreages. Niching out what you consult is vital.
Myth #2: “You Can’t Make Money in Permaculture Consulting.”
Many who do go into consulting in this space believe that you can’t make money consulting on permaculture projects. This could not be further from the truth. I am constantly surrounded by colleagues that are run off their feet with work. The truth is that the world has never needed a holistic approach to human habitat design more than it does now. I am busier than I have ever been and have to constantly turn down work. There are also millions of consulting engineers, architects, business consultants, coaches, and advice-based firms operating globally – I can guarantee you that they are not all losing money.
Consulting in permaculture operates in what is called a “blue ocean” as opposed to a “red ocean”, meaning that there is little to no competition out there. (Check out the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” – it’s great.) This is a perfect illustration of the old permaculture saying: The problem is the solution. The lack of people working in this space means it is wide open for you to define your path. Unfortunately, because it is such a blue ocean out there, that does mean no one will hire you as an employee – you need to start your own business.
Myth #3: “Permaculture Consulting is Not For Me.”
People complain about how much they hate consulting. I’m not going to pretend it’s for everyone, but I know a lot of supersmart people who could do incredible work in the field if they could move past this perception. Consulting is hard, challenging, and rewarding. If you have tried it before and hated it, ask yourself what you didn’t like about it. I bet the parts you hated were around selling jobs, scoping projects, or not getting paid enough to do a good job. But these are all solvable things that can be made enjoyable. To be honest, I wouldn’t have believed this myself had I not met an incredible mentor who set me on the path I’m on today.
The world is heading into a storm; some might say it’s already here. As my colleague and friend Javan Bernackavich says, we now need all hands on deck. Javan and I have noticed many of the above sentiments from our students and saw a need to teach people on how to remove the friction that comes from consulting within the regenerative space. Our goal is to help get more people filling niches and fixing landscapes, farms, and communities while meeting and exceeding their financial needs – in short, producing right livelihoods. That’s why we started Regenerative Business Mentorship – we recently just put ten exceptional businesses through the program with most of them seeing incredible results.
Stay tuned for the next post, when I go into the 4 reasons why permaculture consulting businesses fail to produce right livelihoods.
“Is my business where I want it to be?”
If you’ve ever asked yourself this, Javan and I want to help you exponentially grow your business, understand and charge your value, remove the barriers for your clients and customers, answer sticky questions, to be a part of a supportive community, and fully affect the change you want to create in the world.
The long and short of the Regenerative Mentorship Program: 3 months of business coaching and mentorship starting September 15th, 2017, all designed to help you work on your business while you’re working in your business, addressing roadblocks, frustrations, and opportunities with us and a mastermind community of peers working in regenerative businesses, using solutions and principles to level up.
Interested? Learn More Here.
Thank you, Rob and Michelle for sharing your “learning journey” and wisdom!
“I could write a whole other blog about the hundreds of business opportunities I see in this space on a regular basis.” – how about a blog on this?
“Regenerative Business Mentorship – we recently just put ten exceptional businesses through the program with most of them seeing incredible results.” Any suggestions on why some of these businesses may not have seen the incredible results?
The permaculture journey started for me with a summer horticulture week course I took at Olds College, taught by Rob. Thank you!
Thanks for the comments!
Great idea on the business idea blog, we will have to do that!
They have all had great results, some of the best results take time to implement.
Some of the businesses saw immediate results because of their place in the business life cycle. Some businesses will take a little longer to see the results. All of them were really happy with the program.